States Can’t Nullify, Because I Said So

Email Print

Funny to watch the establishment’s reaction to the reappearance of the idea of state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws.  This isn’t allowed, of course — the right of Ivy Leaguers to impose their theories on the country shall not be infringed.

The extremely conventional Sanford Levinson trots out all the old arguments.  My book on this subject, slated for mid-June release, answers all of them many times over.  But especially dishonest is Levinson’s by-the-books argument that Virginia and Kentucky found no support for their arguments in 1798.  What he leaves out, of course, is that the vast bulk of the states that protested the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions expressly affirmed, in their very replies to those states, their own support of the Alien and Sedition Acts, which they considered perfectly constitutional!  The fact that a bunch of states that were dead wrong objected to Virginia and Kentucky is supposed to make us rethink nullification?  And within 10-15 years, many of these states, too, were speaking of the right of state interposition.  In 1820 the Ohio legislature passed a resolution indicating its support for the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, whose principles “have been recognized and adopted by a majority of the American people.”

Much, much more can be said against Levinson.  But even the tiny bit I’ve said here, at least a portion of which you’d think an honest person might acknowledge, is absent from his article.  You may hesitate to believe me — I mean, an establishment historian leaving out the relevant facts? — but it’s true.

7:04 pm on February 6, 2010